Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreens: Pros and Cons

Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreens: Pros and Cons

The sun, although beautiful, can be a dangerous thing. Not only can is severely damage your skin, but it can cause skin cancer as well. With the sun having such harsh effects on the skin, while enjoying a day in the sun it is always a good idea to apply a sunscreen. The sun can have harsh effects on the skin, so protecting yourself would be wise. It is never in question whether sunscreen is a good idea to wear or not, but people do question what kind is appropriate for their skin and which does a better job at protecting them. There are two types of sunscreen that people can use: physical and chemical.

These two types of sunscreens have differences and similarities achieve the same goal, but still, there are some people who prefer one to the other. Overall, each one does a good job to keep you safe from the sun, but like most things, there are pros and cons to either one.

Chemical Sunscreen

This particular type of sunscreen works differently that physical because it absorbs the Sun’s rays to keep your skin protected.


  • Skin is protected from the full spectrum of UVA rays.
  • Offer more coverage from UVB rays
  • Colorless
  • Odorless
  • Easy to apply
  • Can sometimes be used as a primer


  • Not immediately effective
  • Runny
  • May cause skin damage and irritation due to free radicals being generated
  • Some UV filters may not be FDA approved

Overall, chemical sunscreen works great to protect the skin from the sun, but with it possibly causing damage due to it creating free radicals, some people may question whether or not if this type of Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreens: Pros and Conssunscreen is safe. Even though it creates free radicals, chemical sunscreen may be seen as a better option because it offers a high level of protection.

Physical Sunscreen

Physical sunscreen protects your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, but instead of absorbing the rays, it deflects them.


  • Protects against UVB rays thanks to titanium dioxide
  • Protects against the full spectrum of both UVA and UVB rays thanks to zinc oxide
  • Effective immediately after application
  • Doesn’t generate free radicals
  • FDA approved


  • Difficult to apply due to its thickness
  • Often has a white tint
  • Comes off easily
  • Needs to be applied frequently

Overall, physical sunscreen may be a better option for some people depending on their concerns about the level of protection it can offer them. Unlike chemical sunscreen, physical sunscreen doesn’t cause damage to the skin. This alone may be seen as reason enough to choose physical sunscreen over chemical.

The point of wearing sunscreen is to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Whether you choose to do so by wearing either chemical sunscreen or physical sunscreen, it is good thing you are taking the time to apply a protectant to your skin. While the sun may not always permanently damage your skin, many people have continued to suffer because they failed to apply sunscreen whenever they ventured out into the light of day.